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Meet the new A-list fitness fans embracing exercise for all the right reasons

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When Stylist launched, we promised to never report on celebrity weight and diets. Constant speculation over women's bodies in the media is not only objectifying and inappropriate, it also degrades the notion of women's health and fitness.

Exercise, healthy eating and making your body stronger, however, is something we wholeheartedly promote and champion.

The difference that exercise makes to both mind and body is widely reported, and it is also recognised as an aid to reduce anxiety, aid sleep and boost self-esteem

And now a new wave of A-listers from Lena Dunham to Zoe Saldana are using their profile to champion exercise for all the right reasons. From reducing stress levels to building a stronger body to deal with the pressures of work, these stars are candidly speaking out about how fitness and wellbeing has helped them overcome difficulties, and it has nothing to do with weight. 

"There's nothing anti-feminist about being healthy," Lena Dunham told People magazine last month. Rather than exercising to look a certain way she said "I'm just exercising to be a person who will live past 50."

We take inspiration from the A-listers championing a new image of women's fitness, one that has positive benefits for the mind and body. 

Lena Dunham overcomes anxiety using a yoga mat

"It ain't about the ass, it's about the brain"

Lena Dunham

Lena's motivation: "Exercise...has helped with my anxiety in ways I never dreamed possible. To those struggling with anxiety, OCD, depression: I know it's mad annoying when people tell you to exercise, and it took me about 16 medicated years to listen. I'm glad I did. It ain't about the ass, it's about the brain."

Lena's health and fitness routine: The 26-year-old has praised The Tracy Anderson Method, which she described as “mat work, sort of in the Pilates vein - small movements that look easy but are tortuous."

Rather than working on the larger body muscles, the exercise focusses on strengthening the accessory muscles (muscles of the neck, back, shoulder and abdomen that assist the diaphragm when moving). Whether it's followed on TV or in studio, the routine changes every 10 days to ensure the accessory muscles never get bored.

The Girls star and author has also been participating in acro yoga, which combines yoga and acrobatics. "Part of the reason I wanted to do it (exercise) was I was losing my breath when I walked up [stairs]," Lena added. "(It) made me realise just how broken my body really is."

Lena Dunham

Zoe Saldana strengthened her broken body after giving birth to twins through walking

"I am determined to get my energy back"

Zoe Saldana

Zoe's motivation: "In some cases more than others, your body experiences a kind of trauma through childbirth that is difficult to explain unless you've had that experience," the actress shared on her Facebook page this month after giving birth to twin boys in November 2014. "My case was like that, everything from my thyroid to my platelets crashed. Thank God, we are all doing great now, but my body was really bent out of shape after the boys were born. Bouncing back feels impossible, but I know it is important as a woman, and now a mommy, to not give up. I am determined to get my energy back and find balance for my body."

Zoe's health and fitness routine: The 36-year-old felt she "had no flexibility, weak joints and exercising was painful," so trainer Steve Moyer suggested she start walking for entire month of January. The star shared images of herself and husband Marco Perego hiking in the hilly area of Hollywood near her Los Angeles home on Instagram at the time (pictured below).

Zoe Saldana

Her trainer also advised on her to change the way she ate, making healthier choices for her meals and drinking more water. "I see people do salads wrong everyday," said Steve. "They either don't have enough calories because their salad is all greens and ruffage, or they have way too many calories because they overload on a bunch of "healthy" items like nuts and avocado, never realising that these items are very dense in calories."

One recipe he recommended to Zoe is a salad or what he likes to call a "cold meal" of tuna or chicken, pinto beans, artichoke hearts, celery, tomatoes, onion and peppers (find the recipe at moyermethod.com).

Zoe urges that it is not a diet, but simply that she is choosing to eat healthy. She wrote on her Facebook page this week, "I am going to remove the word "diet" from my life. I am going to remind myself that it is not about losing weight, it is about being healthy, feeling healthy, for the rest of my life. What I am trying to do for myself and my family is create a healthy lifestyle that I can live by everyday. I want it to become second nature to us." 

"I know ordering pizza while vegging out in front of your TV feels way easier to do, but trust me it isn't. You can walk to your fridge and create an amazing meal for yourself that will only make you feel greater after you finish eating it.... But if Pizza is what you want then by all means get on your Google search and find yourself a healthy pizza recipe. Make it fun too! Healthy doesn't have to be dull and sad, it can be an awesome experience."

She shared her healthy pizza recipe which she whips together whenever she's craving a greasy take away. 

Zoe saldana

Ellie Goulding runs every day to maintain her stamina to perform live

"Being fit is better than being skinny"

Elle Goulding

Ellie's motivation: "I feel quite proud to be an ambassador for women who realise that being fit is better than being skinny," the singer said in a video for Nike Women. "I still think there's a little bit of work to do with promoting fit, not thin. But it's getting there."

"My passion for exercise and performing on stage have started to interwine because I'm having to be fit to be able to do the things I want to on stage. I end up running around and jumping around and really using up a lot of energy."

“My training is part of my life,” said the 28-year-old in a previous interview. “It’s something I need to do every day, because it affects my mood, my fitness, even my mind-set onstage.” 

Ellie's health and fitness routine: "I think I was about 18 when I decided to start running. I literally went out running one day and I never looked back. From then on I was running every day and I still am now." When she has the time she'll run four to six miles from her London flat. 

But she's also mixes in boxing, gymnastics, martial arts, Barry’s Bootcamp, the Insanity DVD and yoga, all of which she logs on her Instagram account. "I love to do high-intensity training, but I also love to take it easy. I say take it easy, but doing yoga is not easy. Doing something different every day keeps things fresh," she said.

Ellie Goulding

Jessica Alba works out to reduce stress

“I think diets are boring...life’s too short to deprive yourself.”

Jessica Alba

Jessica's motivation: "I didn’t appreciate working out when I was in my 20s," she told Natural Health magazine earlier this year. "It was purely for work, and I hated it so much. It was just brutal." But her perspective changed when she became a mother. "Now I enjoy it, because it's 'me' time and a stress-reliever...I like how I feel after a workout," adds the actress and founder of ethical baby goods The Honest Company.

Jessica's health and fitness routine: "I prefer Flywheel because I like doing the competitive thing," says the 33-year-old on her favourite spinning classes that lets participants compare their progress to others' in the room.

Jessica also logs time in her home gym, which occupies half of her garage (the other half is a playroom). There she alternates between sprints, a brisk walk on a treadmill and pilates. "It’s fun to mix it up," she adds. "And I really like to work out with friends. They keep me accountable."

It might sound like a serious commitment but Jessica says she doesn't beat herself up for missing a session.  "I’m a little squishy right now (and) it’s fine. I don’t care."

The actress encourages food indulgence, keeping a jar of sweets in every Honest meeting room. "Life’s too short to deprive yourself. I can’t get through a meeting without candy," she says.

Jessica Alba

Karlie Kloss runs to clear her mind

"It gives me uninterrupted time to think"

Karlie

Karlie's motivation: "Growing up, I played every sport in the book - basketball, soccer, swim team,” the model told Vogue, as well as classical ballet, which she credits for helping her to “develop self-awareness about my body”. 

But the one thing Karlie's never got to grips with is running. "I've never been much of a runner, actually that's putting it mildly. I Detest running! (You might think having long legs would make it easier, but I think it does just the opposite.)" she wrote on Instagram. "However, I've always wanted to overcome this fear of running long distances and this year I have been challenging myself to run more and more often."

The 22-year-old told Runner's World she's realised that a jog "helps me clear my mind and gives me uninterrupted time to think".

"I also always feel re-centered and ready to take on the day after a really good run...My goal in taking on running is to challenge myself physically and know I can do anything I set my mind to." 

Karlie's health and fitness routine: Last month the model completed the Paris Half Marathon in an impressive two hours and 18 minutes. 

"My main goal was training the right way and building up the endurance and strength to really give it my all!" said the star who starts most of her mornings with a run.

She also uses New York City trainer Justin Gelband's laser-focused training technique, which uses slow, controlled movements to build long, lean muscle. "If I travel for work, I have a set of resistance bands, a pair of ankle weights, and my Nike tennis shoes in my bag. That’s it," says Karlie, who sticks to a circuit of mini workouts that are as easy to do in a hotel room or at the gym, no matter what country she is in. "I like the idea that you don’t need a ton of equipment, that working out can be as simple as using your own body weight and a water bottle."

Karlie
 

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